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Sample Exemplification Essays

Page history last edited by gretchen 11 years, 4 months ago

Essay #1


Prompt:  In a multi-paragraph essay, compose an essay explaining the significance of three or four of the pictographs on page 126 to Part II of Fools Crow by James Welch.


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Pictograph Interpretation Essay (Fools Crow assignment)


A Changing Land 

     Overlooking a scree slope in the towering peaks of the Backbone, Fools Crow  wakes, alarmed and pained by a sharp knock to the 

head, the all-too-familiar croaky laughter of the sneaky Raven reaching his ears. Enveloped in the spirit world, Fools Crow learns of a 

terrible monster, a Napikwan, who threatens the wellbeing of the mountains (160-161). In Fools Crow by James Welch, Fools Crow, a 

young Pikuni brave, finds himself obliged to travel between the spirit world and his own reality while grappling with the conflicts of his 

Pikuni tribe and the threat of the Napikwan. As Raven’s gruff voice tells Fools Crow of the Napikwan sabotaging the surrounding 

Backbone, he also warns him of the inevitable changes occurring to the Pikuni way of life, setting up a choice Fools Crow must make in 

the near future. 

     In the pictograph, the dark slash marks across the body of Fools Crow’s white bighorn embody the deadly claws of Real-bear. Vast 

footprints, also of the powerful bear, lead away from Fools Crow, represented by the figure in the center of the pictograph. When Fools 

Crow wakes, he sees his catch of a white bighorn being dragged off by a large bulky shape. Real-bear, potent yet cunning, steals Fools 

Crow’s prized bighorn out of an effortless and lazy habit (160). This newly acquired practice is caused by the isolated Napikwan and his 

reckless killing spree, which teaches Real-bear and the other animals of the Backbone a new and easier way to obtain food. After 

shooting the animals he chooses, the Napikwan leaves the bodies to rot, killing purely for the sport of it. Real-bear and the other 

carnivores of the Backbone soon learn to prey on the easy catches as opposed to hunting for themselves. In reality, the Napikwan, along 

with disturbing, also changes the cycle of the Backbone, a foreshadowing of change that is engulfing the Pikuni way of life. 

     Changes present in the Backbone are not only those of the material world, but also of the spirit world. Raven, the bird figure above 

Fools Crow, stops on his way after searching far and long for food (the chunk in his claws) to bring to his wives. He pauses his journey 

to drop in on Fools Crow in order to tease him about his lost catch, but also to warn him of the Napikwan and his actions, killings Raven 

witnessed first hand (163). Raven knows that for his benefit among the other animals of the Backbone, he needs to put a stop to the slaughter. From his seeing blue stone, he has seen the feats of Fools Crow, and decides to “drop in,” trusting that Fools Crow will perform the task of removing the Napikwan. Raven also understands the circumstances of Fools Crow’s name, and the untruthfulness of it. In his cunning mind, Raven uses blackmail against Fools Crow, but it is all for the best, the benefit of the Backbone. 

     The lone Napikwan who pressures the continued existence of the Backbone is nothing more than a precursor to what other Napikwans will do. A crumbling pile of sticks sits below the dead white bighorn. The sticks, coming off the white bighorn, are of no use to Fools Crow or Raven looking from above. “Why grow those scrawny things when the roots and berries grow so abundantly around us?”, declares Mad Plume, the carrier of the Otter Medicine bundle for the Black Patched Moccasins, referring to the small plants the Napikwans instructed some Black Patched Moccasins to deposit in the Ground of Many Gifts (96). Like the flimsy plants, the sticks coming from the white bighorn’s body have little or no use for the Blackfeet. They are mere twigs, useful only for a weak fire or fragile structure. The Napikwans are changing and scattering the resources of the land into objects the Pikunis and other tribes have no use for. All the land the Pikunis depend on is slowly being torn apart, scattered about with no care like the innocent victims of the reckless Napikwan. 

     The loss of Fools Crow’s catch foreshadows the Napikwans’ intentions for the land. With Raven’s guidance, Fools Crow chances his life, and his wife’s, in order to kill the Napikwan and restore order to the Backbone. This sacrifice proves Fools Crow’s determination and love for his land and for his people. Although the gruff laughter of Raven prompts him to kill the Napikwan, Raven also ultimately warns Fools Crow of the inevitable transformations of the fast-changing land, leaving him to consider fewer options to save his people and their land.


Essay #2  


PromptOne of the strongest human drives seems to be the desire for power.  Write an essay in which you discuss how a character in Lord of the Flies either struggles to free himself from the power of others, or seeks to gain power over others.  Be sure to demonstrate how the author uses this power struggle to enhance the meaning of the work. Avoid plot summary.


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Exemplification Essay (Lord of the Flies assignment)



Instinct of the Power-Hungry 

    Painted and festooned, Jack Merridew sits on a log, waited upon and served the recent kill by his newfound tribe as if he were a god. Seeing the approaching boys, he stands up and waves a spear, commanding his tribe to, “Take them some meat” (138). In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, a group of stranded young boys discover and face their inner darkness no longer hidden by the rules of society. Surrounded by the growing fear of the beast, Jack uses his instinct to manipulate and oppress the other boys as he fights to gain dominance. 

    The pursuit of pleasure, one of Jack’s strongest drives, sways many boys to name him their chief. While in the care of Ralph, the boys find 

themselves constantly nagged with rules and responsibilities, such as building shelters and keeping a fire going for rescue. After leaving Ralph’s group, Jack comes back to tempt the remaining boys to join his lifestyle of, “hunt[ing] and feast[ing] and have[ing] fun” (130). The promise of meat and a living devoid of tedious jobs entices the boys to join Jack, as does his groups’ native and uncivilized behavior. The boys, instead of being forced to grow up and act as adults, are allowed and encouraged to give over to the animal within themselves. Jack realizes that, in offering the boys this enjoyable and easy alternative, he earns himself followers and takes away from Ralph’s authority. 

    On an island with no adults, Jack also offers protection from the beast, directing the boys’ focus to himself and the security he provides. In an island meeting, a small boy reports of a beast from the water, and fear plants itself in the hearts of boys both young and old. In the midst of chaos, Jack shouts, “If there’s a beast, we’ll hunt it down! We’ll close in and beat and beat and beat-” (84). In providing this appealing solution, the end of fear and nightmares, Jack gains the approval and dependence of the boys. In this false sense of security, Jack starts to convert fear into allegiance and loyalty to him and his cause. As the boys begin to feed Jack their trust, he in turn, begins to bind them with it. 

    Although Jack uses much cleverness and wit, he relies heavily on physical means to attain power. Coming back from the first fruitful pig hunt, Jack finds himself the cause of much anger for letting the fire go out when a ship had passed. Unable to save himself from this blame, Jack resorts to physical violence, “[sticking] his fist into Piggy’s stomach,” (65). In showing them his capacity for aggression, Piggy, as well as the other watching boys, learns to fear and respect Jack. This fear, combined with that of the beast, causes many boys to side with Jack and do as he wishes in order to avoid getting hurt. 

    Throughout Jack’s quest for control, he hurts, even kills other people, manipulates their fears, and brings out their inner beast through his own. Just as Jack acting as a god among the islanders, the universal race for power yields results just as ugly. Innocent lives are taken in wars, and dictators continually abuse and oppress their country’s people, like Jack demanding tribute and utter commitment to his every command. Despite the devastating effects, a thirst for power still grows, and just like Jack Merridew, those who seek it become beasts themselves.

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